Sources and translations

This blog provides our draft translation of Carolingian texts, mostly linked to Hincmar of Rheims or the divorce of Lothar II and Theutberga.


The texts translated are as follows:

Page references are given in square brackets in the translation. All these translations are works in progress and have not been checked for errors or readability. Readers are strongly advised to check the Latin text themselves.


Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Interrogatio I

They [the Lotharingian bishops] say in their first chapter [p.114]:
The wife [Teutberga] of the lord king Lothar was first of all accused [?] of fornication, that her brother had committed a dreadful deed with her in masculine intercourse between her thighs, as ‘men are accustomed to commit sin with men’, and that she had thereof conceived. And that, in order that the disgrace might be hidden, she had drunk a potion and had aborted the progeny. She denied this. For the sake of proof, and in the absence of witnesses, it was decided by the judgment of the lay nobles, by the counsel of the bishops, and by the agreement of the king, that a champion of this women should go to the ordeal of boiling water. After he was found to be uncooked, that woman was restored to the marital bed and to the ordained royal union, from which she had been suspended. Then, after a length of time, the pamphlet which we sent to you [the Booklet of Eight Chapters, see below]was written by some bishops, though we do not know whether about the same act or concerning something done after the beginning of the marital union. And it was widely suggested that because of the secret confession which the booklet mentioned, all you remaining bishops should take the floor, and should definitively remove her from marital union, and, if you should demand more, that she should be compelled to give you a booklet complete with her own signature. This way, just as Ebbo, the former bishop of Reims, was removed both from his seat and his [episcopal] order thanks to a booklet of secret confession, so she, through a booklet of secret confession, should be removed from marital union.

Concerning the venerable archbishop of Reims [Hincmar], we were told that he consented to this procedure, and that through bishops, that is Wenilo archbishop of Rouen and Bishop Hildegar, he passed on his verbal agreement. And that through Adventius [bishop of Metz], who had spoken to him at Reims about this, he had sent letters of his agreement to the royal meeting and to the bishops’ meeting, and that he had sent through this same Adventius letters to the apostolic seat [Rome]. Now, we demand that you tell us, in all Truthfulness, which is God, how much of all this should be authoritatively accepted as truth.

Now, the text of the Booklet of Eight Chapters runs like this [p.115]:
Chapter 1. We bishops, who were recently convened to the Palace of Aachen, have arranged to bring to the attention of our brothers and co-bishops what we learned and what we discovered there, so that they, physically hearing and spiritually understanding[?], might discern and work out in unanimous counsel what conclusion and what end they might put to this matter.
Chapter 2. The glorious king Lothar had an informal and secret meeting with us. There, he humbly and in devoted purety set forth his own particular and specific needs, and sought advice and a remdey. We, admiring his good will, were led and bent to compassion by his tears and sighs, by God’s will. To the king as he entreated, begged and pounded [the floor], we gave counsel and medicinal remedy.
Chapter 3. As we listened, not without grief and sadness, the king began to tell us about his wife in a melancholy tone of voice. He wanted to keep her, but she with constant and insistent requests was demanding that, freed from marital chains, as unworthy by her own account of the marital bed, she should take the veil and be worthy to serve Christ the Lord.
Chapter 4. Meanwhile a messenger of this queen summoned us, asking that we would not delay to go to her. As we went, she hurried to meet us. She almost threw herself at our feet, and begged us in hese words: “For the sake of God and of your ministry, I beg you, give me counsel.”
Chapter 5.We replied to her, as we stood, “So that”, we said, “God might give us counsel, which we could pass healthily and truthfully onto you, tell us, in a stratight and true confession of your conscience: what is it that you seek advice about with such agitation [?]. For unless we know the truth, we cannot give you that which you seek. But we warn you first, and by God’s authority and our own we carefully command: you must not confess any misdeed falsely ascribed to you, whether on account of the enticements of anyone’s persuasion is deception, or by fear of any punishment or death, since this would lead us into error: may it not be so! Rather, as we said above, reveal to us the truth of the matter, neither more nor less. And we, with God’s help, will struggle to give you advice and assistance, so that you will not be cheated of your justice in any respect.
Chapter 6. “May God and my conscience be my witnesses”, she said, “and with my confessor also as a witness, I will stray neither to the right nor left in what I say and confess about myseulf, saying nothing except what is truthful. I admit,” she said, “and I know this about myself, that I am not worthy to remain in conjugal union. And I present to you this bishop Gunter [of Cologne], to whom I confessed. He knows that I am not worthy.” And she turned to this bishop, and pleading, said “I ask, bishop, that you make your co-brothers to understand, as best you can, what it is about, just as I myself bore witness [to you].” The bishop replied to her “It would be better”, he said, that you yourself should open up to my co-brothers what still remains hidden, so that they might hear what they should judge upon from your own lips”. But she said “What need is there that I should say anything other than what you know? For God’s sake, tell them my necessity, so that you together my lord [husband] might give my permission to do what I want to. Since ‘even for the whole world’, I am unwilling to lose my soul. And so I ask you, for the sake of God and the ministry which you took on, do not deny to me that which I demand, for the salvation of my soul”
Chapter 7. Then we bishops asked in concern whether, if her request was granted, she would make some protestation or prepare a trap. To this she said unconstrainedly ‘Through the faith which I nourish, I promise to you in the presence of God that I shall never in eternity make a protestation, either directly or through any cunning.”

Chapter 8. What we learned from our co-brother [Gunther], grieving, anguished , lamenting, and regretting that he had ever been aware of this confession, this we will tell our brothers and co-bishops face to face, according to the licence given us. So that, as we said in the beginning, they might understand the gist of this hitherto hidden matter, and then everyone, with one mind and one agreement, might dispel error and raise up Truth. [P.116]